The Turtle Island Consultation on Pastoral Care for Suicide in Indigenous Communities
June 19-22, 2014
St. Peter’s Anglican Church Six Nations
The Office of the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, Anglican Church of Canada and the Indigenous Theological Training Institute of North America are partnering to bring Indigenous experts together to help create a resource for providing pastoral care in time of suicide. This resource for use by clergy and lay leaders is needed not only so we can “say the right thing,” but it can also be a prevention measure. We will look at ways to comfort those affected by the suicide within the context of our traditional teachings/values and ceremonies. What is already in our cultures that could bring peace, i.e., talking circles, smudging, elder’s wisdom, traditional dance and singing, etc. It is also important for us to understand the history of suicide in our various cultures; there are some cultures that look at suicide as being an honorable death in certain situations. We will also look at what the bible says about suicide and ask ourselves, “what would Jesus say about suicide, what would he have said about Judas’ suicide? The liturgy we use and what we allow to be used can make a big difference in the healing.
The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, the National Indigenous Anglican Bishop, will gather all in a circle of love and prayer and put the Gospel in the center of the sacred circle. All who come will be there because they are the right people to be there. We will talk, we will sing, we will pray, we will cry and we will laugh. Space for participation is limited but all are encouraged to pray for this very important consultation. All will be lodged at the Bear’s Inn Bed and Breakfast, a very comfortable First Nation owned business. The “Ladies of the Parishes of the Six Nation’s” will provide lunch and dinner.
Six Nations is home to four active Anglican parishes. The Mohawks have a long history of being Anglican that began in the early 1700’s in the Mohawk River valley of New York State. It is the largest First Nation in Canada with approximately 24,000 members. It is a place where millionaires live with poverty, there are mansions and there are old cabins. There are many businesses, and with the exception of the two banks, all are First Nation owned. And, of course, there are the socio-economic problems that are present in other First Nations communities.
At the International Gathering of Indigenous Urban Ministry, the Rt. Rev. Steve Charleston, former bishop of Alaska, told the group that suicide is a big problem in both the United States and Canada and that we needed to work together. We will come together with our hearts and minds to see what better life we can make for our people and the Seventh Generation not yet born.
For more information on this important gathering, please contact the Rev. Canon Ginny Doctor, Indigenous Ministries Coordinator, at 416.924.9199×626 or [email protected]
Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, June 9, 2014